By Emerald Cammegh
Hartpury students have been helping to welcome this year’s batch of Spring lambs at the college’s new facilities on Okle Clifford Farm.
The farm, found in Highleadon, will provide additional educational opportunities for students to learn about best practice in beef, sheep and arable production, while also playing a leading role in the college’s biodiversity project.
Hartpury students are already reaping the rewards with the lambing season in full swing at the farm providing an invaluable hands-on experience for Agriculture students.
The students have welcomed more than 70 lambs so far and there are still many more to come with 600 sheep still to give birth. Current student Austen Penfold was joined by fellow first year students in looking after lambs that were born over the weekend, and they even had the excitement of delivering a set of quadruplets - an unexpected arrival considering that ewes more commonly give birth to triplets or twins.
The students work in groups over eight-hour shifts for each 24-hour period during the season, and their ‘lambing duties’ include checking for triplets, which then have to be separated and paired with foster mothers. They place ewes and their newborn lambs into pens to ensure mothering takes place and monitor the new families’ progress.
Other duties involve continually checking for new lambs, health checks and feeding and tagging the lambs, with all of the data recorded on a computer. All students have access to members of staff to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
After a few weeks of being tended to, the lambs will be able to take their first steps outside into the spring sunshine.
Austen said: “It’s a fantastic experience to help with the lambing. I’ve been studying the theory over my last term at Hartpury and I was able to watch demonstrations from the vet visit, which helped me to understand certain lambing practices.
“Being able to take on lambing duties here at Hartpury allows me to develop my knowledge and practical experience.”
The sheep breed currently lambing at Okle Clifford are Romneys, while the Mules and Easy Cares will be lambing shortly. The rams used are Charollais, Suffolk and Beltex.